I am always on the lookout for free, educational activities for our family that gets us out-of-doors. Over the past 10 years we have done quite a bit of exploring central Oklahoma, and here are three of the best free (except for the cost of gas) activities we enjoyed:
- Visit the Tallgrass Prairie near Barnsdall, Oklahoma. This beautiful wildlife preserve is like visiting Oklahoma when the settlers first came to this land. Wide, open spaces, tall grasses swaying in the wind and a lot of buffalo to enjoy. As the sign to the preserve states, “This is a space of quite in an increasingly noisy world”. The only noise was the sound of the wind, the lowing of the buffalo and the singing of the birds. Visit Barnsdall afterwards and tour the local Native American heritage museum for a peek into local tribal history.
- Hike at Gloss Mountain State Park. This small state park has large deposits of selenite crystal, which look like small pieces of glass shining in the sun. There are several trails, one which looks quite steep up the side of the mountain. The Gloss Mountains are more like large outcroppings jutting out of the otherwise flat landscape. Stations along the trail offered free selenite crystal pieces for visitors to take home. There are no bathrooms that I could see, so be sure to plan to visit one before going hiking.
- Dig for crystals at the Salt Plains State Park. The salt plains were created when a large lake partially dried up.The park is also a nesting area for several endangered species of birds. If you bring a bucket, shovel and clothes you can get dirty in, you can dig for crystals in the designated areas. There is also a visitors center, with a small nature display and a bathroom (always important). Note: It can get terribly hot in the summer when the salt reflects the sun. We went on a day in the upper 80’s, but on the salt bed, the temperatures reached over 100. Be sure to go on a cool day!